In an apparent change from previous years, the Buckeyes also finished strongly, and they continued adding major talent throughout January and up to National Signing Day.
Headlining the late signees was super linebacker Curtis Grant, out of Virginia, who the Buckeyes snagged on Signing Day. The five-star prospect only adds to the impressive talent grab by Jim Tressel and staff, and will help ease the departures of Brian Rolle and Ross Homan.
Grant wasn't the only five-star recruit however, as Ohio State also snared similarly-rated Steve Miller and Braxton Miller, both listed as among the tops at each player's position. Braxton Miller is one of the top quarterback prospects in America, and he figures to be the eventual successor to Terrelle Pryor. Steve Miller will have every opportunity to see playing time at defensive end, especially with the departure of Cameron Heyward.
As usual, the Buckeyes were strong in Florida, where Ohio State has recently begun establishing a consistent pipeline into one of the nation's talent-rich areas. Jeremy Cash, Ryan Shazier and Jeff Heuerman are all from the Sunshine State, and each player has enrolled early, giving them an early start on learning the Buckeye system.
Ohio State addressed every single need they targeted, especially adding depth on both lines, and the haul was impressive to say the least, on both sides of the football.
In addition to Grant, the linebacker group includes Conner Crowell and Ejuan Price, as well as Shazier. This was easily the top linebacker haul by any school in the country, and is a testament to assistant coach Luke Ficell.
Doran Grant, Ron Tanner and DerJuan Gambrell are all four-star defensive back signees, and combined with Cash, gives Ohio State ready-made replacements for Aaron Gant, Jermale Hines, Devon Torrence and Chimdi Chekwa, and all of the newcomers could see action next season.
The Buckeyes added two wide receiver prospects, and both Devin Smith and Evan Spencer are rated as four-star recruits. The loss of Dane Sanzenbacherr and Taurien Washington to graduation, combined with the five-game suspension for DeVier Posey, gives both Smith and Spencer the chance to get on the field.
The 2011 recruiting class is more of what Buckeye fans have come to expect from Tressel, and is more like the classes of 2008 and 2009, in that all are listed as among the finest in the country, in their respective years. The strength of the class is in the large amount of four-star prospects, and they will serve as the backbone of this class, alongside the three five-star players.
Right now, it sure looks like Ohio State will continue to dominate the Big Ten conference for the foreseeable future, because the overall talent disparity between the Buckeyes and the rest of their rivals grew larger on National Signing Day, and there doesn‘t appear to be any team in the conference in the same area code from a pure talent perspective.